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Literature: A Giant Sucking Sound
A Giant Sucking Sound is an ongoing Alternate History series on AlternateHistory.com in which H. Ross Perot's third party bid in 1992 succeeded. It was significant in how it highlighted the hypothetical rise of a successful modern third party, and a dystopian 1990s, and in the process showed just how close we could have had either.

After getting elected by first, not withdrawing in August, and nominating populist Gov. Jerry Brown as his running mate, Ross Perot is largely opposed by both parties out of a mutual desire to see the first Independent president since George Washington play ball by their rules. Needless to say, Perot chooses to destroy the two-party system instead, forming his own political party, the Freedom Party, or Freedomites. Largely centrist, but attracts all types not represented by either wing or ignored by their own, its ranks include John McCain, Paul Tsongas, Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Bernie Sanders, Al Sharpton, Joseph Patrick Kennedy II, as well as the likes of Jon Stewart, Jello Biafra and Donald Trump. With the two-party stranglehold broken, President Perot and the Freedomites begin implementing their agenda, whether or not they can reach a tripartisan agreement.

The Perot presidency sees some great things done. Perot spearheads an international coalition of forces to intervene in Rwanda to prevent the 1994 genocide that President Clinton failed to stop in our timeline (OTL), as well as a more competent attack on Somalia which ends with a puppet regime installed in Mogadishu. In addition, he almost immediately starts pushing for national internet infrastructure akin to phone lines or highways, with the committee implementing such an approach headed by Steve Jobs. As promised, he pushed a balanced budget amendment through Congress and it passes once turned over to the states, though a similar one pushing for term limits to Congressmen failed. In addition, he enacts a version of gun registration not seen for years later in the aftermath of Waco. To top it all off, Perot prevents the implementation of NAFTA and stands up to China over Taiwan. In addition, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks advance further with survival of Yitzhak Rabin from his assassination attempt.

However, at the same time, the state of the world gets worse, a lot worse. In reaction to the harsher put down of Waco and Ruby Ridge, and inspired by other international terrorist movements, the brief 1990s militia movement has blossomed into a homegrown terrorist movement called Stormfront, led by the likes of David Duke, Richard Girnt Butler, Tom Metzger, David Leach and Matthew F. Hale, who conduct events like the Oklahoma City bombings and assassinations ranging from Paul Wellstone to Steven Spielberg. Terrorism has become a global threat even more than OTL – ranging from the Islamic radicals to Aum Shinrikyo in Japan, with Paris's Eifel Tower destroyed in a 9/11–style attack, and the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo detonates a stolen nuclear bomb in Nagoya. Russia seems to have come under the grip of a ultra-nationalist movement that is starting to take steps toward reclaiming some of the neighbors., and Europe is locked in a war in Algeria combating Islamic radicals as a result of the terrorist attack in Paris. Somalia ultimatly fragments years ahead of schedule, one where Mogadishu is ruled by Hussein Mohammed Farrah Aidid. Though Perot intervenes in Rwanda, similar genocides in Congo and the Solomon Islands take its place. The map of the world has been radically altered, with independent nations like Mindanao, Somaliland, Kurdistan, and even Quebec, and hints of Belgium broken into Flanders and Wallonia in the future.

Ultimately, the turmoil abroad and at home was enough that, when combined with Perot finally snapping under the pressure, it leads to Democrat Ann Richards winning in 1996, becoming the first female president. Richards, though she comes down hard on Stormfront, does so by enacting legislation that makes the OTL Patriot Act look tame, and between that and pushing for unpopular health care reform, she is placed in a vulnerable position for re-election. Heading into the 2000 national election, one with chaotic details on all sides, including a brutally drawn-out Freedomite convention, we are about to see Republican Jeb Bush, Freedomite Angus King, and even two fourth-party runs from both Pat Buchanan and Jerry Brown challenge the vulnerable President Richards for the presidency.

Another hallmark of the TL is the vivid alternate pop culture, which helps characterize the world even further. One of the most infamous moments of the TL is the death of Steven Spielberg at the hands of Stormfront, with Saving Private Ryan dedicated to his memory and a number of other projects of his circulating around Hollywood in various forms. Brandon Lee has lived to become one of Hollywood’s biggest action stars, having starred in TTL Matrix movie (of which there is only one, which flopped) and another movie based on Metal Gear Solid. Kurt Cobain’s gunshot wound left him braindead, something which has affected rock music in ways even more than his OTL death. Television has seen a version of The West Wing with Sidney Poitier playing the president, and 24 with Charlie Sheen playing Jack Bauer. Other butterflies have seen Harrison Ford play Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List, Russell Crowe land the role of Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings 'trilogy, Titanic goes down as a box office bomb, and a grief-stricken George Lucas handing the directing job for the Star Wars prequel trilogy to Sam Raimi, leading to that trilogy being better received critically and by the fans in contrast to OTL.

This work provides examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Through she survives her car crash that occurred OTL, this was the fate of Princess Diana after her divorce from Charles and her subsequent conversion to Islam after marrying El-Fayed. Not surprising considering Europe's own "War On Terror" in Algeria.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Aum Shinrikyo in Japan
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Stormfront and its leaders. In Real Life they were key white supremacist figures and Stormfront is the name of a major white supremacist website.
    • Pat Buchanan views Russian President Vladimir Zhirinovsky as one, even saying he would help any Jews in Russia if they would need to escape because of him.
  • Crapsack World: Through there are some bright spots(Internet in every aspect of everyday life, as well as Perot's intervention to stop the genocide in Rwanda and the resolution of the Taiwan crisis come to mind), it can be said that the 90s was this, or very close to this for the state of the world. We have Neo-Nazi militia running amok and killing many influential people like Tupac Shakur, Paul Wellstone and Steven Speilberg, Russia in the hands of ultranationalists, Terrorism, both Islamic and Secular, prevalent in many parts of the world, leading to the bombing on Paris and the nuking of Japan, the former leading to a drawn-out European War On Terror. Through the US manages to depose Saddam Hussein through a coup and handle Somalia better than OTL,Iraq descends into civil war and Somalia fractures even earlier. And through the Palestinian peace talks progressed further than in OTL and culminated with the reconition of a Palestinian state, the possibility a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict seems to be shattering with increasing terrorist attacks on Israel following the Camp David agreement that eventually lead to the death of Ariel Sharon TTL.
  • Darker and Edgier: With Stormfront being more active we have several famous people dead because of them, the War in Algeria, and How several people in real life high positions get screwed over.
    • The Stormfront attacks arguably had the same effect of darkening pop culture in-universe as well. And with Titanic's box office bomb, this possibly averting the more controversial and negative effects of "teen/tween" media on TV and Film if not remove them altogether.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Kurt Cobain's braindeath.
  • For Want of a Nail:
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: One of the biggest twists in story the aforementioned death cult nuke Japan for the 3rd time in 50 years
  • In Spite of a Nail: Tupac Shakur is still shot and Paul Wellstone still dies (though kinda subverted for the latter, as he is assassinated instead of dying in a plane crash), the Arab Revolutions of 2011 are still implied to have happened (though possibly earlier) and Jean-Bertrand Aristide is still overthrown by the US in the 2004 coup d'etat.
  • Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman: Many. Mainly people from entertainment who decided to run for office
    • Rep. Jon Stewart and Senator Stephen Colbert
    • Gov. Jello Biafra of California
    • Natalie Portman (under her real name of Natalie Hershlag) never goes into acting, and instead becomes a psychology student. Her work on the pop culture of the 90's is quoted often in the passage in relation to pop culture.
    • Hill Harper (of CSI:NY fame) is quoted extensively throughout the timeline, and mentioned as becoming a senator from Iowa, and eventually, the Vice President, by at least 2004.
    • President Donald Trump
  • Take a Third Option: Instead of working with the two-party system, Perot chooses to create a third party instead.
  • The War on Terror: Europe gets it's own.
  • Western Terrorists: Stormfront.

AH.com EternalsWeb Original FictionAgent Lavender
Agent LavenderWebsite/Alternate History.comAmericas Stepbrother Americas Enemy

alternative title(s): A Giant Sucking Sound
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